Devotion in Motion: Enough with all the complaining

 16 ¶ Rejoice always,

 17 pray without ceasing,

 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   ~  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Well, I’ve just finished my 10th day of teaching at the Choctaw Tribal School, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. I taught as a Mississippi public educator for 28 years, and that was a fine ride, too. But, as you can imagine, there are cultural differences between the two. And, I’ve got to say, some of the changes are refreshing.

For one thing, my students don’t seem to bellyache as much as my public school kids. This dawned on me this week after I ate a banana in the classroom during break. I threw the peel in the wastebasket. When the kids came back from recess, nobody said anything about it.

If I were back at my previous schools, somebody would’ve had something to say about it — something like, “Somebody ate a banana in here, and it stinks!” Or maybe, “I can’t study in here with those banana-fumes…they’re making me carsick!” Maybe not that exactly, but it would’ve been loud and there would’ve been discussion.

Back in the mid-1990’s, I had a Latin class that complained about everything. The room was too hot, or too cold, or there was a bad smell, and the lesson was boring. (Really, those complaints are just scratching the surface of things, large and small, they griped and moaned about.) One day I told them, “You are the complaining-est people I’ve ever known in my whole life. If the Lord let you all in the Garden of Eden forever, you’d spend all eternity complaining that “The fruit is nasty.”

You’d think that would’ve made them mad, but they thought it was hilarious. (Dear reader, you do realize that all humor begins with truth, right?) They adopted the phrase “The Fruit is Nasty” as their Latin class motto and emblazoned it on everything. They were complainers, but at least they recognized the truth about themselves. That group of kids will turn 40 years old next year. I hope they’re not still complaining.

Well, back to my Choctaw kids. I haven’t heard my class complain about anything. For instance, every day we listen to phonograph records in English class, whenever we’re reading or writing. Classical music, Dave Brubeck’s jazz, Nat King Cole, and the Time-Life Great Music are all among the albums we’ve listened to so far. And here’s the remarkable thing; nobody has complained. Nobody has said they don’t like that kind of music. Nobody has said the music is giving them a headache. Nobody has said they can’t work when there’s music playing. And no one has said, “That record is getting on my nerves.” It’s amazing.

The only thing they’ve said about the phonograph is, “Dr. Cash, are you going to turn on the record player today?” and “Will you flip that record over so we can hear the other side?” One boy said, “It’s always like Christmas in this room. There’s always music, and it’s chill.”

I hope it continues.

One of the veteran teachers said this: “The kids here do tend to ‘roll with the punches’ with whatever is going on.” I realized that the Apostle Paul would say that this is a Christian virtue to be proud of. In the pastoral epistles he wrote, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3) Those who follow the Lord Jesus should not expect that everything should always go “their way.”

My colleague’s comment made me think about just how much time I’ve devoted to trying to give my sons (and grandkids) a life free from any form of discomfort. I think that’s just standard-operating-procedure for raising American kids now. Is it any wonder that our world has so much dissatisfaction and so little thanksgiving?

So, let’s ask the Lord to help us to toughen up so we can fight the good fight of the faith. And let’s give thanks on Thanksgiving — and then every day after that.

(And by the way, on Thanksgiving Day, if anybody brings ambrosia with coconut and mini-marshmallow, please-oh-please don’t say “The fruit is nasty….” 😉)

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 34 ½ years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s currently on a sabbatical from the preaching ministry and is an English teacher at the Choctaw Tribal School. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where Sonny the-yellow-tomcat is more grateful than lots of people.) You can send him a note at